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Nakajima Ki 43-II Hayabusa (Oscar)

by Ian Robertson

 

Nakajima Ki 43-II Hayabusa (Oscar)

 


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Ki 43II Late Oscar is available online from Squadron.com

 

Introduction

 

Although quality kits of the Ki.43 Oscar have been available in 1/48 scale from Nichimo and Fine Molds for years, the recent releases of several versions of the Oscar by Hasegawa represent a leap forward in design sophistication and quality (but at an intermediate price). I decided to tackle Hasegawa's Ki.43-II in a natural metal finish with green mottling.

 

 

Hasegawa's 1/48 Ki 43II Oscar

 

Hasegawa's Oscars are what we have come to expect from the manufacturer - clean and crisp parts, good fit, and excellent detail throughout, including in the cockpit (although the opening of the cockpit is so small most of the detail vanishes in the finished product). The kit does have a couple of minor shortcomings in my opinion, but none that should cause more than minor aggravation to most modelers.

The first shortcoming is that the wingtips are included as separate pieces that bisect the ailerons. To be fair, separate wingtips are required for the various versions of the Ki.43; however, it is unclear to me why Hasegawa cut the pieces awkwardly across the ailerons. Nevertheless, with some putty and sanding the wingtips can be matched well with the main wing without losing much detail.

 



Another shortcoming of the kit, which applies equally to Hasegawa's Ki.84 Frank, is in the design of the butterfly flaps - Hasegawa designed the kit such that the flaps must be displayed in their extended position. While I applaud manufacturers that give modelers the option of dropping flaps, I have yet to see a photograph of an Oscar or Frank on the ground with its flaps extended. It would have been better if extending the flaps was an option rather than a requirement of the kit's design. Undaunted, I opted to use sheet styrene to replace the kit's flaps and display them in the retracted position. Unfortunately, I was unable to replicate the subtle surface details on the flaps. Oh well, I don't look underneath my models very often anyway.

My model was built out of the box. The only modifications I made, apart from the new butterfly flaps, were to drop the elevators, add etched metal seatbelts, and make antenna wire from stretched sprue.

 

 

Painting

 

Using Polly Scale acrylics, the cockpit was painted Nakajima Green and then oversprayed with a light coat of aotake (metallic blue-green).

The exterior of the model was first sprayed with several light coats of SnJ Aluminum Metallizer. I did not buff the natural metal finish.

Fabric covered control surfaces were sprayed with Tamiya's Japanese Army Grey acrylic. Using Polly Scale's Japanese Army Green acrylic I sprayed mottles over the wings and fuselage, with a lighter application around the cockpit and wing roots. Despite my best efforts to spray fine mottles, the natural metal finish was marred by overspray. To reduce the overspray - my references indicate that the mottles I was after were rather hard edged - I used a toothpick dipped in Tamiya acrylic thinner (X-20A) to gently "scrape" away the overspray around the mottles. This technique allowed me to create convoluted patterns on the fuselage and cowl, as well as create well defined and irregular spots on the wings.

 

 

The Tamiya thinner had no adverse effect on the SnJ metallizer. In fact, the removal of overspray rejuvenated the luster of the natural metal finish. In sum, the technique was tedious but gave me the effect that I wanted.

The upper cowl was painted flat black (with a touch of gray for scale effect and fading). The propellers and spinner were painted Japanese Army Brown. The exhaust pipe was painted "burnt iron" and then brushed with orange-brown chalk pastel.

The yellow leading edge wing bands were painted on last. In retrospect, I should have painted these bands first and then masked them while painting the camouflage. Hasegawa does provide decals for the leading edges but I found them too bright for my liking, not to mention complex (numerous pieces must be joined for each wing band).

 

 

Decals

 

Hasegawa's decals work well but be careful using decal setting solutions and solvents - in my experience Hasegawa decals often react adversely (i.e., wrinkle badly) when exposed to these agents. The tail decal presented some difficulty because of its large size. I ended up cutting each one into three pieces prior to application in order to get them around the stabilizers.

 

 

The fuselage band fit perfectly and was opaque. Brown and dull red chalk pastels were used to subdue the bright color of the hinomaru decals.

 

 

Conclusion

 

In my opinion the Ki.43 Oscar is one of the more interesting Japanese Army aircraft of WWII. It's historical importance, elegant design, and interesting camouflage options make it a "must-have" (or even "must-have-a-few") for enthusiasts of Japanese aircraft. Hasegawa's kit is a beauty, although the earlier kits by Nichimo and Fine Molds can still hold their own.

 

 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Article Copyright 2002 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 18 July 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007

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